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Religious Concepts in West African Cosmogonies: A Problem of Interpretation Author(s): Emefie Ikenga-Metuh Source: Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol.

13, Fasc. 1 (1982), pp. 11-24 Published by: BRILL Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1581115 . Accessed: 12/04/2014 23:50
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Journalof Religionin AfricaXIII, 1 (1982)


A Problemof Interpretation

(University of Jos, Nigeria)

Cosmogonies in a broad sense, are theories about the origin of the universe. Here they are taken to refer to myths which explain the origin and organization of the universe from the fewest possible elements, or to creation myths properly so called which attribute the origin of the universe to the activity of some pre-existing divine being.1 Contrary to the suggestion of Okot p'Bitek that "myths of
origin in African religions ... have no religious significance",2

cosmogonic myths are very fertile sources of traditional African religious beliefs, as will be abundantly illustrated by the analysis below. In fact, African cosmogonies not only provide the symbolic categories by which Africans understand the organization of their universe, but also suggest patterns by which they try to maintain the balance and the harmony of the world through ritual.3 For they define the nature and power of being in the universe and their relationships, and thus suggest rituals by which man tries to relate with them and the universe as a whole. However, greater difficulty and disagreement are encountered when it comes to the interpretation of these traditional African religious concepts. Okot p'Bitek was probably right when he protested against wide scale reductionism in the interpretation of traditional African religious concepts practised by both European and African writers. Some Western anthropoligists, he argued, interpret African religious beliefs in terms of psychological, biological or sociological theories. Christian missionaries on the other hand, describeAfrican religious beliefs in Christian concepts, and call African deities God; while some African writers, in reaction to European scholars who describe African cultures and religions in disparagingterms, "dress up African deities with Hellenic robes and parade them before the

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Ikenga-Metuh Emefie

Western world to show that Africans were as civilized as Europeans". He argues that the African deities in the books, clothed with the attributes of the christian God, are the creationsof students of African religions.4 Okot p'Bitek's cautions are timely, but he is sometimes indiscriminate in his attacks. Welbourn, in his review of Okot p'Bitek's book, rejects as unmerited, his fierce attach on Evans-Pritchard and Lienhardt, whose works he argues have enabled Western scholars to value their cultures perse. Their work attempted to unearth the deeper meaning which underlie the overt assumption and made possible the interpretationand comparisonof the tenets of these cultures with similar concepts known to modern

In fact in his reflections on the Nuer Religion Evans-Pritchard explicitly rejected psychological and sociological reductionism as well as interpretations based on evolutionary principles. He stressed however, that many features of these religions can only be understood if studied in the social structure in which they are found. Nevertheless religion is neither the worship of society as Durkheim assumed, nor can its interpretation be exhaustively explained by the need of fostering the harmony and smooth running of society. The concepts and beliefs of peoples of simple cultures, he suggested, should be studied in the broader framework of their "Weltanschauung" or world-view. After the study of a number of such African philosophies, the work of classification and comparison of their different tenets among themselves and with similar concepts in Western philosophy and theology can fairly begin.6 Mary Douglas' view that the best approach to the study of religion is "to compare people's views about man's destiny and place in the universe", is substantially the same.7 She attacks some theologians and students of comparative Religion whom she says pretend to study Religion "in its own right", independently of the social structures in which it is found. These she points out usually present an incomplete and distorted picture, and sometimes end up comparing incomparables. Ideally, in the study of traditional religions, the work of the anthropologist, the theologian and the student of Comparative Religion are complementary rather than opposed to each other. The anthropologist should investigate and unearth the underlying meaning of the institutions, beliefs and practices of the people and translate them into the language and terms familiar to an ordinary reader. The theologian can then

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in West African Concepts Cosmogonies Religious


evaluate such beliefs with the instruments and skill of his profession, and if need be compare them with parallel beliefs already known to Comparative Religion. So that ideally, the work of the theologian begins where the anthropologist's stops. However, one finds that in works on African traditional religion, very often one person combines both roles and not always with success. Most often, multiplicity of the societies needing study, and the language problem, make this inevitable. Like Evans-Pritchard, Horton rejected the kind of anthropological interpretation which apparently assumes no motives exist other than quest for social harmony, quest for power, and quest for food. He equally rejected a philosophico-theologicalinterpretation of traditional religious concepts. The ultimate concern of traditional religion, he argues, is not philosophical-definition of the ultimate grounds of all existence, but the attempt to explain and influence the workings of one's everyday world by discovering the constant principles that underlie the chaos and flux of sense experience.8 He thus proposed a scientific model as the most convenient for interpreting African religious beliefs. The African religious thinker, like the scientist, is engaged in making models to explain his vast and varied experiences. The objects of religious beliefs, the Supreme God, deities, ancestors, are best seen as models which explain varying levels of experience. This thesis has certainly added a new dimension to the understanding and interpretation of African religious thought. However, it seems to overlook the marked similarity between objects of religious thought of widely differing cultures. Moreover, many of these religious beliefs subsist in technologically advanced societies, side by side with the scientific explanations. In fact, the tendency to force African concepts into foreign moulds is often precipitated by the striking similarity one finds between some African and Western theological concepts. However, EvansPritchard has pointed out that African religious concepts need not fit into the well-known Western scheme monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, aninism, etc. They are best understood as involving elements of these schemes at different levels and in different contexts of experience. Peel has commented in the same vein on Yoruba traditional religion. The Yoruba religion he noted, has varied theological elements (a Supreme Being, subordinatedeities, ancestors, sacred Kings etc.) and the whole system looks different

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Emefic Ikenga-Metuh

from different standpoints.9 The error of theological reductionism occurs because of failure to realize that the differencesin the beliefs of different cultures are at least as important as their similarities in any interpretation. African religious concepts are 'like' and 'unlike' Western concept. I think Okot p'Bitek overstates his case on this point. By failing to recognise any bridge between traditional African and Western concepts, he leaves African religion in a state of isolation, and makes interpretation work difficult. According to him, because Africans speak in concrete terms, abstract concepts like Supreme Being, creation, omnipotence, omniscient, etc. "are meaningless in African thinking". However Africans are quite capable of forming and do form, abstract concepts. Moreover, abstract concepts can be expressed in concrete terms. It is the work of an interpreter to translate parallel concepts from the different cultures into the same form of expression, and thus lay bare their identical and differing features. This article will apply the caution, insight and approaches suggested by the authors mentioned to the study of the cosmogonies of three West African peoples. Here, we shall consider the cosmogonic myths of the Dogon of Mali, the Fon of the Republic of Benin and the Yoruba of Nigeria. We shall try to interpret the religious concepts contained in them by comparing them with similar concepts in comparative religion and theology. Here, we give only the outlines of the myths which are necessary for our analysis. THE DOGON COSMOGONY According to Marcel Griaule and Dieterlen, the order of the universe as it is seen by the Dogon of Mali, is a projectioninfinitely magnified of what takes place in the Kize Uzi (the little thing) the smallest cultivated seed before germination.10The creative process took place in AdunoTal (the egg of the universe). As a result of the same process reflected in Kize Uzi, the egg was divided into two placenta, each of which contained a pair of twin Nommo. These are believed to be emanations of Amma, a Supreme God who existed from the beginning. These twin beings were each equipped with two spiritual principles of opposite sex; each of them was thereforea pair (thus forming the ideal octet). The male Nommo in one placenta, emerged before the time appointed by Amma and flew down with a torn part of its placenta,

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in West Concepts African Cosmogonies Religious


intending there with to create a world of its own. This being, Yurugu, and his earth were from the beginning solitary and impure. Yurugu therefore returned to heaven to recover the female Nommo, but Amma had already given her away to the other pair. Yurugu returned to the dry world and began to procreate incomplete beings-offspring of incest, for he created from his own placenta. Instead of destroying the world thus disordered by Yurugu's rebellion, Amma decided to restore order in it. He thereforekilled the Nommo of the other half of the egg and sprinkled his blood all over the earth. In this way, Amma regained control of the world, and was able to impose his order upon it. After five days, Amma restoredhim to life and made him master and ruler of the universe. From the parts of Nommo, Amma also created four other twin Nommo (the divine octet) whose offspring became the ancestors of the Dogon people. Amma sent to the earth the Nommo thus resurrected down in a gigantic arch on which were four Nommo ancestors with everything needed to restore and fructify the earth, and sustain the human race. With the skill taught by Nommo, social life came into existence. The arch delimits space, measures times and the seasons. Death appeared due to the activity of Yurugu.

According to Mercier, the present world, as the Fon of Dahomey know it, is the product of a dual deity Mawu-Lisa. Remnants of an earlier cosmology refer to Mawu-Lisa as the offspring of a certain earlier supreme being Nana-Buluku now almost forgotten.11 At the of the Mawu-Lisa stood at the head of the beginning present world, deities (vodu) who were their sons. Mawu-Lisa is one deity with dual aspects, one side (Mawu) being female and having as its eyes the moon, the other side, (Lisa) male, whose eyes are the sun. Mawu-Lisa with the aid of Da, a primordialdivine being, probably a product of Mawu, created the world. Da, is also a dual male/female being. His visible representativeis the rainbow and its primary attribute is motion. When Mawu was creating beings to length and breath of the universe. Mawu-Lisa gave birth to all the Vodu (deities), and assigned to
each, a part of the universe to govern. Each Vodu is head of a group of Vodu geneologically related to him. cover and people the world, it was Da who carried him through the

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Emefie Ikenga-Metuh

To Sakpata is assigned the earth. To Sogbo the atomospheric phenomenon. To Agbe-Naete is assigned the sea and To Age the waters and wild uncultivated field. The last born is Legba who is appointed observer and messenger between the deities. Having created and ordered the universe, Mawu formed the first human beings from clay and water. But clay was in short supply in those days, and so when men died, Mawu took their bodies to make new men.12 After the creation of world, men were blind and helpless, so Mawu sent Lisa (sun) accompanied by Gu (deity of Iron) to give light to the earth, and clear forests and show human beings the use of metal tools.

According to this Yoruba myth, in the beginning, all the deities lived with the Supreme God Olorum in heaven. The earth below was covered by a primeval water.13Olorun, gave Orisanla (god of whiteness) a chain, some earth in a small shell and a five-toed chicken, and ordered him to go down to create the earth. At the gate of heaven, he saw some gods having a party. He drank too much palmwine and fell asleep intoxicated. Oduduwa, his younger brother, took the materials and decended to the earth below on a chain. Oduduwa threw the earth on the ground and dropped the fivetoed chicken upon it. The chicken began to scratch the earth spreading it in all directions, and as far as the ends of the earth. After the chameleon had tested the firmness of the earth, he stepped on it at Idio where he made his home, and where his grave in Ife is located today. Later, in a quarrel which ensued between Orishanla and Oduduwa over the ownership of the earth, the other deities took sides, but Olorun intervened and made peace between them. To Oduduwa who created the earth, he gave the right to own the earth and rule over it, and he became the first King of Ife. To Orishanla he gave the power to mould human bodies and he became the creator of men. Olorun also sent to the earth Oranife (Ife god of thunder) to keep peace between them, with Ifa (god of divination) and Elesije (Ife god of medicine) as their companions.

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in West African Religious Cosmogonies Concepts



Like most cosmogonies each of these three myths raises questions about the origin and organization of the universe. The explanation offered by each of them is a religious one-the world resulted from the activity of a divine being who is like man in some respects and yet surpasses man both in nature and power. The Dogon myth identifies him as Amma, the Fon myth says he is Mawu-Lisa, and the Yoruba myth calls him Olorun (or Oldumare). While elaborating the relationshipbetween this divine being and man, the subordinate divinities, and the universe as a whole, these myths have given us some insight into some of the religious concepts of the West African peoples who evolved these myths. Here we shall comment only on a select number of these-the concepts of the Supreme God, creation, evil, and the nature of African traditional

The Dogon and Yoruba myths do not discuss the origin of this Supreme God who gave rise to every other being. He is simply said or presumed to have been in existence at the beginning. Since he is postulated to explain every other being and in no way depends on them, he has precedence over all other beings both in time and in perfection. To this extent, he could be called the 'supreme being' in Dogon and Yoruba experience. Some authors object to the use of the term 'Supreme Being' as a general term applicable to all African 'Supreme Gods' as a case of hellenization of African deities, along the lines of the Christian God.13 The Christian God, they argue, is called Supreme Being because no other being could be greater than him. Could the same be said of the Dogon and Yoruba supreme gods? Probably, the Yoruba and Dogon never put to themselves this question. All we can deduce from the myths is that Amma and Olorun are profferedas the ultimate explanation of all reality in the universe of Dogon and Yoruba experience respectively. Of course one could argue that since Amma and Olorun are regarded as the ultimate ground of all reality, each qualify to be called 'Supreme Being' in the philosophical sense, i.e. it is not possible to conceive a being greater than him. This is clearer in the Dogon myth than in the Yoruba myth. The more complete version of the myth emphasizes that Amma existed from the beginning.

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Ikenga-Metuh Emefie

The creation process took place inside himself and other things which had a place in the creation process-the seed, the creative word, the Nommo, came from inside of himself and were part of him. His supremacy thereforehas not just a tribal but also a cosmic dimension. With the Olorun of the Yoruba, this is not so obvious. He is said to have existed from the beginning in heaven at the head of a pantheon of deities who are tribal gods anyway. However, his absolute control over the deities and the universe suggests that his supremacy transcends tribal boundaries. The Fon myth does trace the origin of their Supreme God MawuLisa back to an earlier deity Nana-Buluku who is supposed to have given birth to her. Having said this, the myth then goes on to attribute to Mawu-Lisa activities which present her as supreme among other beings in Fon experience. In one situation, MawuLisa is presented as a dual male-female deity, and in another situation, Mawu is seen as the only supreme deity, and Lisa as a subordinate deity. According to Mercier, this anomaly is explained by the fact that the present Fon cosmology is a blend of the cosmologies of the different peoples who formed part of the Dahomian empire. It is therefore wrong to assume that the concepts of African Supreme Gods are identical. They are conditioned by the social, cultural and historical experiences of the differentpeoples who have them and therefore vary. As we said about Christian and African Supreme Gods in general, so similarities and dissimilarities also characterize African 'Supreme Gods' among themselves. The Fon belief bears out the fact that, the 'Supreme God' of their own experience is one whose sovereignty may or may not exceed the confines of their ethnic group. His supremacymay furtherbe limited to the present world, only as different from previous worlds or other worlds unknown to the group. However to the extent the Supreme God is accepted in some systems as the ultimate explanation of all reality, he can truly be called the Supreme Being, so that the terms 'Sky God' or 'High God', which seem to suggest that African Supreme Gods derive their title of supremacy from the fact that they have their abode in the sky or that they are at the head of the local pantheon, are inadequate.
CREATION African 'Supreme Gods' are very often referred to as creators.

However, the familiar Euro-Christian concept of creation from

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in West Cosmogonies African Religious Concepts


nothing, or bringing things into being from no pre-existing substance is not so obvious in the three myths. With some reservations the activity of Amma in the Dogon myth could be describedas a creation activity. From no pre-existing substance, he produced the firstbeings, by inserting in himself some signs and pronouncing creative words. This set in motion certain movements within himself which resulted in the existence of the first beings. What do we have here, creation or emanation? In emanation, the new being uncontrollably shoots out of the mother being no more than an extension of herself. In the case under discussion we have a production of new and different sets of beings by the positive will and activity of Amma. In the other two myths, the 'Supreme Gods' are seen as organizers of the universe from some primeval substance, rather than creators. Chaos characterizedthe earth before the intervention of the Supreme God. The organization of the universe was effected through the agency of a subordinate deity-a demiurge.14In the Yoruba myth, Oduduwa is the demiurge who organized the chaotic earth (described as a 'watery waste') into a habitable place and an ordered society. In the Fon myth, Mawu-Lisa who herself was a demiurge, further availed herself of the service of the deity Da. However, from sources outside the myth, we know that some West African groups have in their vocabulary words which designate the activity by which things are brought into existence and these indicate a unique act which cannot be attributed to any being, other than the 'Supreme God'. Among the Igbo of Nigeria, for instance, the word which designates this activity is Eke. The prerogrativeof the Supreme God over this activity is emphasizedby two common personal names-Chukwukere ('God created'), and Maduke ('man does not create'). Etymologically eke means to 'share'. Creation is primarily conceived as sharing out. Like the Kalabari, Igbo believe that every person and everything is allotted the sum total of his fortunes and misfortunes at the moment he is brought into existence by God. At the same time, God puts an emanation of himself into him. This emanation goes by the same name as the God himself (Tamunoand Chiamong Kalabari and Igbo respectively). Creation among these two African peoples therefore, is the act by which God shares out himself and allots destinies to different individuals. This should not be seen as a panthesistic outlook, for the emanation of God remains quite distinct

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Emefie Ikenga-Metuh

from the individual and returns to God at death.15 This is a case where a West African religious concept cannot be rendered by any Western parallel term. Any interpretation would have to describe the concept as it is held by the group. DIVINEPROVIDENCE However, the three myths emphasize the universal lordship of the Supreme God over the universe. All beings in the universe are under the control of the creator God, because he made them and continues to direct their actions to achieve his divine purpose. The heavenly realm of the deities, the earth, even the deities themselves, have their purpose in God's providence. In the Dogon myth, a deviation from God's plan by the rebellious divine being (Yurugu) results in a chaotic world. God again intervened and imposed a restorative plan which restored order and produced a fertile world. The phenomena of light and darkness, times and seasons, and the essentials of human civilization all come from God. In the same way, the Fon myth tries to show that Mawu-Lisa is in full control of the universe. He assigned to each deity (Vodu) its own sphere of influence in the world. She made the first human beings. Her concern for their difficult lot made her send her son Lisa to teach men the art of making iron tools, and agriculture. Olorun in the Yoruba myth is the Lord of the deities (Oris'a)as he is the Lord of the Universe. The work of organizing the universe, equipping the earth with vegetation, and defining the seasons were carried out by the Orisa but under his direction. The prerogative of giving human life belongs to him. Thus vis a vis all the beings in the universe, he is presented as the transcendent, all powerful Lord, whose providence rules the world. Although the terms 'transcendent', 'all-powerful' and 'providence' express western philosophical concepts, yet in this circumstance, they adequately express the activities of the West African Supreme Gods. Their use should not be discouraged just because their formulation was made in a different cultural setting. EVIL Both the Yoruba being. The Yoruba between the deities struggling over the and the Dogon myths present God as a moral myth presents Olorun as the Supreme arbiter Orisanla and Oduduwa who were said to be ownership of the material world. The Dogon

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myth touches on the problem of evil. How can a good God create an evil world? According to the myth, evil does not come from God, rather, it is a disruption of God's original plan for an ordered world. Thus the rebellion of Yurugu disrupted the original plan of Amma and brought in its wake disorder and all sorts of physical evils. Sin in African conception therefore, has both moral and ontological dimensions. Morally, it is a rebellion. Ontologically, it consists in the disruption of the ontological order. Hence the myth itself makes this inference: "Death made its appearance in consequence of events connected with the position of Yurugu in the new organization-whereas, Nommo, a being of day, associated with the sky, water and fertility rules the cultivated habitable land". This explains why certain physical evils are seen as symptomaticof a disruption of the ontological order and call for divination in many African religious systems to find out who or what has gone wrong.

Finally, the myths appear to throw some light on the perennial question of the nature of the Supreme Gods in West African religion. Is African traditional religion monotheism, polytheism or pantheism? The interpretationor the answer to this question hinges on the interpretationof the relationship between the Supreme God and the subordinate deities. In Euro-Christian traditions, monotheism has come to connote not only belief in one God, but also a denial of other deities, so that monotheism is characterized also by monolatry. However somehow, Christianity admits the existence of some spiritual beings who are said to subservient the the Supreme Being. These are classed as good (angels), and bad (demons). And their existence is not held to impair the monotheistic concept! In each of the myths, the relationship between the Supreme Being and the deities is clearly defined. The deities are subordinateto the 'Supreme God'. Their subordinate status is variously expressed in terms of creatures/creator, Son/Father, servant/Lord relationships. In the Dogon myth, the Nommo emerged from the creative process initiated by Amma. Yoruba myth depicts the Orisa (deities) as messengers of Olorun, while in Fon myth Mawu-Lisa is said to have given birth to all the deities. The African Supreme Being is not just one among the deities. He is essentially different. This is very well articulated in different traditional religious systems.

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Emefie Ikenga-Metuh

The deities among the Yoruba for example, go by the generic term Orisa but Olorun (Supreme God) is not regardedas an orisa. Similarly Mawu-Lisa is not just one of the Vodu but their progenitor and Lord. The clue to the understanding of the paradox in traditional religion where the Supreme God is the central focus of the system but peripheral in daily life and in ritual, is provided in these myths. Each of the three myths emphasize that the Supreme God was responsible for the creation and maintainance of order in the wider cosmos, while leaving the organization of details and control of the day to day events to the deities. For as Horton notes, "Since
Kalabari have little need to come to practical terms with the wider

cosmos which envelops the delta world, they do not need to approach the beings concerned with the wider cosmos".16 With the deities, it is different. 'Ritual man' in Africa believes that the more he lavishes offerings invocations and festivals upon them, the more they are disposed to reward or ward-off an impending misfortune. In other words, the Supreme God is not 'withdrawn' because he is ignored by ritual man, but rather because, his position as creator and providence transcends the ritual context. However, in crisis situations when every other means has failed, appeal is sometimes made to the Supreme God as the author and controller of the

In view of this, several writers see the monotheistic model as the best suited for African traditional religion. Fr. Schmidt for example called it "primitive monotheism". According to him the deities were nothing but functional 'differentiations' which split off from the original Supreme God.17 Professor Idowu thinks that Yoruba religion is best described as a 'diffused monotheism' because, according to him Yoruba divinities are no more than conceptualizations of attributes of Olodumare (Olorun).18 Parrinder who had earlier in his book WestAfrican Religionsugshould be called that African 'roundly polytheism'19 gested religion in a later article, suggested that "the patterns by which different African systems reduced their apparent multiplicity to an underlying unity may be regarded as a sort of pantheism, comparable with the Indian reduction of many gods to the one Brahman.20 What, one may ask accounts for these divergent interpretations? Some recent studies now tell us that asking whether African traditional religion is monotheism, polytheism, animism or totemism, is

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infact asking wrong questions. These concepts are not necessarily mutually exclusive, even though they had assumed this dimension in Judeo-Christian traditions. Evans-Prichardmade the following penetrating observation about the Nuer Religion. "On one level, Nuer religion may be regarded as monotheistic, at another level as polytheistic, and it can be regarded at other levels as totemistic or fetishistic. They are rather different ways of thinking of the numinous at different levels of experience.... At no level of thought and experience is spirit thought of as different from God.21Ray has rightly cautioned that this does not mean that African religion consists of conflicting 'systems' which lack any inherent unity.22 Rather, the totality of elements in each religious system can be viewed from different internal perspectives according to different contextual alignments. What is misleading is to seize upon one perspective or tendency and make it the dominant framework, since this can only result in the over-systematizing the contextual diversity of African religious thought. However, in spite of the varied theological elements inherent in its structure, African traditional religion, as a system, has its own overall emphasis. The obvious emphasis seems to be the belief that there is one Supreme God who mediates his powers through a hierarchy of subordinate deities, and in turn is approached through them. The terms "diffused monotheism" suggested by Idowu, or "primitive monotheism" suggested by Schmidt to designate this, appear obscure to me. Once it is accepted that theism can assume different models in different religious systems, then one could speak of 'African theism' bearing in mind that in the African system we have neither monotheism nor polytheism pure and simple.

1. J. Hastings (ed.), Encyclopaedia of ReligionandEthics4, 125. 2. Okot p'Bitek, African in Western Nairobi 1970, 64. See also scholarship, religions E. W. Smith (ed.), Africanideasof God, London 1950, 6; M. J. and F. S. Hersnarratives kovits, Dahomean 1970, 35; P. Mercier, "The Fon of Dahomey", in D. Forde (ed.), AfricanWorlds, London 1954, 210-234. 3. B. C. Ray, Africanreligions, Englewood Cliffs 1976, 17. 4. Okot p'Bitek, op. cit., 88. 5. F. B. Welbourn, review of Okot inJournalofReligion in Africa4 (3) 1972, 228. 6. E. E. Evans-Pritchard, NuerReligion,Oxford 1956, 313f. 7. F. B. Welbour, "Mary Douglas and the study of religions", Journal of Religionin Africa3 (2) 1970, 89-95.

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Emefi Ikenga-Metuh

8. W. R. C. Horton, "Ritual Man in Africa", Africa34, 1964. See also his "The Kalabari world-view: an outline and interpretation', Africa32 (3) 1962, 197-220, and "African traditional thought and Western science", Africa37 (1) 1967, 50-71; ibid 37 (2) 1967, 155-187. 9. Evans-Pritchard,op. cit. 316; J. D. Y. Peel, Aladura: a relgious movement among the Yoruba, London 1968, 29. 10. This myth was collected over a period of time and organized by Griaule and Dieterlen. See M. Griaule and G. Dieterlen, Le renard pl, Paris 1965. See also M. An introduction toDogonreligious with Ogotemrnli. Griaule, Conversations ideas,London 1965, and M. Griaule and G. Dieterlen, "The Dogon of the French Sudan", in Forde, op. cit., 83-110. 11. The Fon constituted the nucleus of the great kingdom of Dahomey, and their religion and cosmology may well be of composite origin. Cf. M. J. Hersnarkovits, Dahomey, New York 1938, and M. J. and F. S. Herskovits, Dahomean 35. An abridged version of the Fon creation myth occurs in Mercier, Forde, ratives, op. cit., 210. 12 G. Parrinder in Smith, op. cit., 232; E. B. Idowu, Olodumart: Godin Yoruba belif, 1962, 6; 0. Ogumba, "Ceremonies", in S. O. Biobaku, Sources of Yoruba history,Oxford 1973. Other versions of the same myth give Orifanla's role to Obatala, seeJ. Adedeji, "Folklore and Yoruba drama. Obatala, a case study", in R. Dorson (ed.), African folklore,New York 1972, 329f. 13. Cf. Okot p'Bitek, op. cit., 87. 14. A subordinate deity who creates or fashions the world under the direction of a supreme Cod. 15. Beliefs about "destinies" allotted by God are also found in the Akan Kra, the Fon Se and the Yoruba Orn: Cf. K. A. Busia in Forde, op. cit., 190; Mercier in Forde, op. cit., 229; Idowu, op. cit., 171. 16. Horton, "Kalabari world view", 197. 17. W. Schmidt, Theoriginandgrowthof religion, Eng. trs., London 1932, 262f. 18. Idowu, op. cit., 63. 19. E. G. Parrinder, WestAfricanreligion,London 2 ed. 1968, 12. 20. E. G. Parrinder, "Monotheism and pantheism in Africa",JournalofReligion in Africa3 (2) 1970, 81-88. 21. Evans-Pritchard, op. cit., 316. 22. Ray, op. cit., 52.

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